I must have been to northern Nevada at some point in the past, but it sure failed to make the impression on me then that it did during this trip.
Like all PASSCAL projects the equipment end of the Northwest Nevada Experiment began at the PASSCAL Instrument Center in Socorro, New Mexico. As usual the equipment was checked out over the few weeks prior to shipping the equipment to the field. This experiment was going to use about 1000 of the Ref Tek model 125 "Texan" single-channel recorders -- the most we had ever handled in an experiment, and about 100 of the Ref Tek model 130 three-channel recorders. PASSCAL only owned about 400 Texans. Ours were combined with the 400 owned by UTEP which was not uncommon. To bring us to 1000 the principal investigators barrowed 200 more from organizations in Denmark and Poland.
The small black items sitting on the floor of our warehouse in the picture below were brand new sensors that had never been used in the field before. They required a bit of a delicate calibration that could only be easily performed in the lab before they could be used. If we had been smarter we would have recognized that as an omen. They were all tested for a couple of days and they all looked ready to go.
There ended up being about 15 pallets of equipment. That's more than usual.
Batteries weigh a lot. We had about 100 of them for running the three-channel recorder stations for a few days at a time, and for leaving behind about 30 stations for the winter.
Load 'em up! Move 'em out. This is how cattle drives are done in modern times.
The folks running this experiment were students and faculty of Leland Stanford Junior University, or Stanford University, or just Stanford near Palo Alto, California. You know...THE Stanford.
The starting instrument center for this experiment was in the town of Winnemucca, Nevada. The Winnemucca area was originally occupied (by white people that is -- we always seem to leave that part out) by beaver trappers around 1830. The transcontinental railroad came through about 30 years later, and Interstate 80 about 100 years after that. Two settlements grew up in the area where the town now stands. The railroad-dominated upper town, and the lower town that was run by the farmers and ranchers. The two towns didn't get along well with each other until they finally physically grew together. The town became the county seat of the area in 1872. Unionville, southwest of Winnemucca, was the county seat, but it is now in another county. Counties must have been larger in the old days. By the middle of the 1870's Winnemucca's population was about 1600. Today it is about 6600.
From 1843 to 1869 the Humboldt River, with Winnemucca on its banks, was the route you used to cross Nevada. During those years it is estimated that about 200,000 people took what is now known as the Humboldt Trail through Nevada on their way from Missouri to California. Back in those days the town, or rather the settlement/trading post, was known as Graveley Ford which came to be called Frenchman's Ford, and then by 1863 as Winnemucca when it was renamed in honor of the principal Piute Indian chief of the region. In the early days the Humboldt River was known as Mary's River. One exciting moment in Winnemucca's history occurred on September 19, 1900 when, as the story goes, Butch Cassidy and the Hole in the Wall Gang rode into town, put a knife to First National Bank president George Nixon's throat, and made him open the safe. I don't know if they took anything or not. Maybe they just wanted to see if he could remember the combination.
A nice flight from Albuquerque to Reno, Nevada, then a few hours drive and we were there. The building where we worked is down the street on the left. We stayed at the Winners Hotel and Casino. It was a pretty busy place, but it really started hopping on the weekends.
I'm not sure if Winnemucca really was the gateway to the Northwest, but it was certainly on path.
The Las Margaritas restaurant became a favorite place for dinner. The food was pretty good and it was a nice place to have a birthday.
Below is Derek Lerch having just such a birthday at the restaurant. He was one of the Principal Investigators (PI)/students from Stanford that laid out and surveyed the whole line. That was a heck of a job in itself and it sure made things easier when everyone showed up and started laying out instruments.
Below is Kelly Grijalva that also celebrated her birthday while we were in Winnemucca. It was her 21st birthday, so she, with no encouragement from us, of course, imbibed the usual kinds of things that one does when they turn 21. Here she is drinking a shot glass full of iced tea. She got to keep the hat.